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June 3, 2004

Man gets house arrest for assaults

From: Halifax Herald, Canada - Jun 3, 2004

Incidents involving two boys occurred at Amherst deaf school

By TOM McCOAG / Amherst Bureau

AMHERST - A former employee of the now-closed school for the deaf in Amherst has been sentenced to 18 months' house arrest for indecently assaulting two of his former charges.

Ross Joseph Chappell's three-day Supreme Court trial was to start Wednesday, but he had decided two weeks ago to plead guilty to two of three charges, court documents examined Wednesday revealed.

A gross indecency charge was withdrawn by the Crown after the 66-year-old Moncton man's guilty pleas.

The charges were laid last year as part of the RCMP's Operation Halogen investigation into alleged abuse at the school. They stem from incidents involving two hearing-impaired boys, one 11, the other 14, between 1973 and '82. Their identities are banned from publication.

Mr. Chappell was a house parent at the school, which closed in 1995 after housing and instructing hearing-impaired students from the Atlantic region for 34 years.

In the incident involving the then-11-year-old, Mr. Chappell touched the boy in his genital area while he was clothed and persisted even though the boy said no.

In the second incident, Mr. Chappell fondled the then-14-year-old's penis, tried to perform fellatio on him another time and pulled down his pyjamas on a third occasion. The first two incidents happened in Mr. Chappell's house, the third occurred at the school.

"The children who came to that school . . . were vulnerable, not just because of their age, but because of their disability. You were in a position of trust and you, Mr. Chappell, ... betrayed that trust," Justice J.E. Scanlan said in sentencing Mr. Chappell.

"These offences cry out for a stiff sentence that sends a message to you and others that this type of behaviour is not acceptable. They cry out for incarceration, the only question is whether that will be in an institution or in your house."

Justice Scanlan opted for house arrest because Mr. Chappell's guilty plea spared the victims from reliving and retelling their story in court, he had no criminal record and in the last 30 years had led a productive life.

For the first 12 months of his confinement, Mr. Chappell must stay at home 24 hours a day except to go to work, attend medical appointments or emergencies, visit his lawyer or attend court, church or counselling programs. He was also given two hours per week to take care of personal needs.

In the remaining six months, he must stay at home between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. daily.

He was also ordered to take any counselling arranged by his supervisor, to stay away from anyone under 14 and not contact either of his victims during his house arrest.

Meanwhile, indecent assault charges laid against John Matthew LeBlanc, 63, of Amherst, as a result of the same RCMP investigation were withdrawn by Crown attorney Dianne McGrath.

In papers filed with the court, Ms. LeBlanc said the move came after consultations with the alleged victim.

Copyright © 2004 The Halifax Herald Limited